By Shannon Baldwin
Members of Students in Free Enterprise Ryerson (SIFE) travelled to Dago, Kenya this July to set up beehives. They did it so the community can harvest honey in order to boost their economy and supplement their income.
The project manager for the trip, Tyler Baird, said SIFE’s mission was for more than just providing money for the community in the short term.
“We try to empower a community through training and classes that will provide them with skills they can use long after we leave,” he said.
A single beehive costs between 45 to 65 Kenyan shillings (about 50 to 75 Canadian cents) and should last approximately 20 years. After the initial starting year, honey can be extracted semi-annually, producing about 70 to 80 kilograms. At that quantity, a beekeeper with one hive can make $500 every year.
Baird said that in the community, that’s “way more than they make in a year.”
With this ability to profit, Baird said that the number of men interested in beekeeping allowed them to start the Dago Beekeepers Association.
So far there are more than 10 members and at least five men have committed to saving for their own hives.
The SIFE team also installed solar panels on an orphanage and set up a financial literacy training group for women in the community. The group teaches women how to budget and save money properly.
This December, SIFE is planning on going back to Dago to check up on the four hives they built, one of which is already populated with bees.
During this visit they will also see if the financial literacy tools they provided are meeting the needs of the community.
“We want to make sure that financial literacy is being enforced day to day and being taught to young people,” said SIFE president, Curtis Yim. “Our long term goal is to develop a sustainable model so there will be no need for us to come back to Kenya.”
“Once we have that, we can move on to a different community or country.”